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Britain, the most surveyed country in the world, is increasingly turning a blind eye to the business of visual security.
Thinking of turning off the cameras, and putting someone back on the security desk? Renovating the watch house on the factory gates instead of upgrading the surveillance system? If you are, you’re not alone.
It is probably the most widely quoted and least challenged statistic about life in the modern United Kingdom, but there are more CCTV cameras per head of population in these islands than anywhere else in the world. Now though, with local authority and law enforcement budgets squeezed, many councils and even police forces are revisiting the costs of high tech eyes in the sky versus human tech eyes on the ground.
We are in a century when Doctor Who’s Tardis is referred to as a blue box, despite clearly still emblazoned with the word “police”; and a beat bobby is something you’ll only encounter behind the decks at a dubstep party.
Many people say that if policemen were actually back out on the beat, somehow sort of seeing things happen in real life, they wouldn’t need helmet cams, recording pictures of them working diligently in the camera control centres of the nation’s towns and cities. They could cut out the middle man - who, in this case is middlewoman Kirsty Young on Crimewatch - by catching the criminals red handed, instead of virtually catching them on tape.
As dissatisfaction grows with the indiscriminate intrusion into everyday life, other studies show that there is a groundswell of opinion for more traditional means of curating society at large. “Bring back parkies and clippies to keep our green spaces green and our buses fit for human conveyance,” may be the cry. The human factor makes a bigger difference than higher resolution and number plate recognition.
However, while street crimes and even more serious criminal acts have often been solved with the evidence of CCTV, the truly Orwellian expansion of the network that now routinely sees waste bin infractions enforced by the ubiquitous spycam may have had its last peek.
Some sources claim there are up to six million CCTV cameras in the UK. If you supply them - you’re probably a very successful business. However, with many councils having admitted to reducing monitoring - or even just switching off the cameras - the burden of security is returning to the citizens. If it’s not already on your agenda, now could be a good time to review just how you go about making your business safe and secure. In the technological age, it might be the most traditional of counter measures that gets a surprise upgrade and reboot. The night watchman - there isn’t an app for that.